Archive for handel variations

Brahms: Handel variations | Sonata No. 3 | Jonathan Plowright pno.

Posted in Instrumental, Piano solo with tags , , , , on March 11, 2013 by orinococds

Brahms: Handel variations | Sonata No. 3 | Jonathan Plowright pno. | $NZ 33 | BIS-2047 1 cd, 73 min

It was in October 1853 that the 20-year-old Johannes Brahms completed his Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, while staying with Robert and Clara Schumann in Düsseldorf. The work had occupied him for some months – at least since the summer of the same year, when he had encountered Franz Liszt, and had heard his recently completed B minor Sonata. Strictly speaking, he may only have heard parts of it: according to some reports, Brahms fell asleep during the performance… It is tempting to see the younger man’s sonata as a response to Liszt’s work, but whatever the case may be, its hero­ic scale, unconventional layout and high quality made it one of the most impressive sonatas since those of Beethoven and Schubert. Signifi­cantly, Brahms never wrote another piano sonata, as if he had said as much as he wanted to say in that genre. Instead he would go on to compose in more concentrated formats, but he also wrote a series of large-scale sets of variations, among which the Handel Variations must be considered his crowning achievement. Completed in September 1861 and dedicated to Clara Schumann, the work shows Brahms at the height of his powers

British pianist Jonathan Plowright makes his début recording on BIS. Hailed by Gramophone as ‘one of the finest living pianists’, Plowright is recognised worldwide as a truly exceptional artist.

Plowright’s cd of the Piano Sonata No. 3 and the Handel variations on BIS2047 heralds something completely special, despite the eminent competition.

These are performances of superb technical command which never draws attention to itself but simply serves the music. And this is combined with an intense musical understanding which makes these weighty pieces seem fleet and logical. The Handel Variations fairly rip along, delighting the listener with their textural variety exploited to the full by this fine artist. The Andante Expressivo of the sonata is certainly that – full of poetry poetry and played with great delicacy and warmth. Let us hope that this cd is indeed the first of Plowright’s Brahms series. Peter Shaw, North and South magazine.

Hybrid SACD format.